The American Civil War gave rise to numerous legends and intriguing mysteries, and many Civil War sites are thought to be haunted. Some of the most interesting mysteries from the Civil War include glowing soldiers, hidden gold, weirdly advanced photo manipulation, and the curious drafting of conjoined twins.
General Grant Photoshopped?
Photoshop alterations are a given in magazines and gossip papers these days, but when this photo of General Grant surfaced it was meant to inspire troops. When experts looked at the odd photo years later it was found that Grant’s head had been spliced onto the image and was a total fake! The body actually belongs to General Alexander McCook and the horse itself was superimposed onto a scene of Confederate soldiers.
The Mysterious Army Itch
During the war, many soldiers were covered in a bad rash that became known as the army itch. There were reports of soldiers’ hands swelling up so big their fingertips couldn’t touch. The rash was a complete mystery until 2006, when experts discovered scabies caused the epidemic. The soldiers easily contracted the bugs because of poor hygienic conditions in the barracks.
Haunted Fort Monroe
Fort Monroe was a Confederate fort that is supposedly haunted today, by everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Edgar Allan Poe. The fort had thick walls and a big moat, which made it one of the only forts in the South that resisted capture. Today you can schedule ghost tours in the fort, and even top-ranking military officials have reported seeing ghosts there.
Lost Confederate Gold
Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images
Unsurprisingly the Civil War was really expensive, so in an effort to rebuild their finances the United States government went after the Confederate treasury. But when they arrived at treasury, it was completely empty! While the gold still hasn’t been recovered, there are several theories about what happened. Some believe it was buried on a few different plantations, while others think it was stolen by deserters.
The Civil War was ripe with medical mysteries, but none were as odd as reports of soldiers with glow-in-the-dark wounds. During the war there wasn’t much medical treatment happening on the battlefields, and soldiers would often lay on the ground wounded for days before help arrived. When doctors finally came they noticed some of the men actually had glowing wounds! In 2001 a group of high school students discovered that a special bacteria that was helping hypothermic soldiers heal probably caused the reaction.
The Missing USS Keystone State
It’s hard to imagine a big sturdy ship disappearing into thin air, but that’s exactly what people believed happened to the USS Keystone State. The ship was transporting iron and passengers across the Great Lakes and had basically nothing to do with the war. But in 2013 it was found at the bottom of Lake Huron. Some academics speculate the ship, which was way off course, was secretly delivering weapons to militia in Wisconsin.
The Confederate Flying Machine
It’s been said that necessity is the mother of all inventions, and a drive to help the Confederate army get a leg up in the war spurred dentist and inventor Finely Hunt to create plans for a steam-powered flying machine. Hunt gave the Confederate army his plans, but his lack of engineering experience prevented him from actually building the machine. However, at the time he created the plans, there were coincidentally several reports of UFOs that popped up.
Haunted Kolb’s Farm
While the Battle of Kolb’s Farm was small compared to other Civil War battles, it left behind big legends that still circulate today. The farm is thought to be haunted by a man dressed in Civil War clothing. The current residents of the farm have reported this ghost will sometimes produce cold spots in the house and tug their hair, but they coexist with him peacefully.
The Bunker Brothers
The Bunker Brothers, Chang and Eng Bunker, were a circus sideshow called “The Original Siamese Twins.” The two traveled with museum exhibitions and in 1839 they settled down in the Confederate state North Carolina. When Union General George Stoneman raided North Carolina in 1865, he decided to draft locals and the twins’ names were placed in a draft lottery. Only one of the twins’ names were drawn, and he resisted the draft because his brother’s name was not drawn. The two didn’t end up serving in the war, but their eldest brother did end up enlisting and serving on the Confederate side.
Stonewall Jackson’s Strange Death
Confederate general Stonewall Jackson was a bit of a strange man who died in odd circumstances. Jackson was a known hypochondriac and believed his body was out of balance. Often times he would hold one arm up in the battlefield to balance out the flood flow in his body and he usually didn’t sit because he thought it misaligned his organs. The night he died the moon was really dim and when he approached his soldiers, they open fired on him. The death was considered friendly fire, but there is also speculation of murder and conspiracy.